Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Friday, January 31, 2020

New Unified Handbook for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Quoting from the above news article:
A new administrative handbook for all Church leaders and members will replace Handbook 1 and Handbook 2, the First Presidency announced Thursday.  
The new handbook — titled “General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” — will be available to the public in English on and the Gospel Library app on Feb. 19, 2020. Translation into 51 languages has begun.
This is a major change in the policies and procedures of the past of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For most of my adult life, the General Handbook of Instruction was available only to certain leaders of the Church such as members of Bishoprics and Stake Presidencies. Access to the book was very restricted. However, in 2010 the General Handbook was split into two volumes: Handbook 1 and Handbook 2. Subsequently, Handbook 2 became generally available and ultimately digitally available to all members of the Church. Although these books had reference to the canon of scripture of the Church (the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price) the handbooks contain policies and procedures that have changed significantly, in some cases, over the years.

The new unified handbook will be "public" as stated above and available only electronically.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Divergent Views on Managing Your FamilySearch Temple List

For some time now in presentations, Ron Tanner of FamilySearch has been talking about the huge numbers of names reserved on specific individual's Temple Reservation Lists. Subsequently, there has been a fair amount of discussion among some genealogists who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the way people manage their reservation lists. 

At one end of the spectrum of users are the people who amass huge numbers of names on their reservation list and at the other end are the people that don't know the reservation lists exist. I am not writing about those who hoard huge numbers of names. I am writing about those people who have substantial numbers of names but are sharing them with relatives and trying to keep enough names to share. I am also writing about those people who are actively adding names to the Family Tree.

It has now been about a year and a half since the introduction of the Ordinances Ready app (program). The introduction of this program marks the beginning of an entirely new way to manage names. Essentially, the Ordinances Ready app enables all of the qualified, registered users of the Family Tree to obtain names from their own part of the Family Tree if there are any available and any names that they have shared with the temples. In the event that there are none, the app finds name from the general list of names shared with the temples. The key to keeping this app working is that people share their names with the temples. After reflecting on this for the past year, I have evolved the following methodology. This is my own personal way of approaching the issues raised by the Ordinances Ready app and not the opinion of anyone else or any entity such as the Church or FamilySearch.

The following was written by me in response to a question posed by one of my friends about using the Ordinances Ready app. It is basically an outline of the method I have developed to address the fact that I can find many more names than I can possibly personally take to the temples. Also, my children are now researching and supplying their own names or obtaining them from their siblings so I am not being called upon to share my names with them.
My opinion about Ordinances Ready is substantially different than some of those expressed. I think it is a wonderful solution for a variety of problems we have been facing since the introduction of To begin, my basic question is this: Once a name is shared with the Temple by you or someone in your family, do you have an opportunity to review and correct the information about the shared individual? Do you search your part of the Family Tree for people who have been shared to target them for review or correction? My point is that the Ordinances Ready app is primarily directed at names already shared. Do we, as individuals working with the Family Tree, have a way to unshare a name shared by someone else? The Ordinances Ready app does exactly that. Do we now have some sort of duty to review and correct the shared names?
My main involvement with the Family Tree is researching and correcting the existing entries and verifying the information already in the Family Tree. This activity results in finding quite a few new names to add to the Family Tree. When I verify the information, I share all the names I find with the Temples. I do not keep any of the names I find on a "reserved" list. I use Ordinances Ready to obtain a name to take to the Temple and it pulls the names from my shared list. From my perspective, emphasizing the "problems" with using Ordinances Ready and telling people that it doesn't work only ends up defeating the purpose of the program and may discourage some 11 year old who is going to the Temple for the first time. As I understand it, the main purpose for Ordinances Ready is to help work on the backlog of names waiting to be processed and increasing Temple attendance. I see that happening in my Ward.  A side benefit is that many people who would otherwise be making incorrect changes no longer feel compelled to "work on the Family Tree." I am motivated to keep working by the huge number of my own shared names that are now being done.  
Reducing duplicates and correcting the entries in the Family Tree is a laudable goal. Ordinances Ready doesn't really have anything to do with that goal. Ordinances Ready does not encourage or discourage making incorrect changes. The app has nothing to do with whether or not the inherited information is right or wrong. It is a neutral method of facilitating temple activity. I see private extraction programs, failure to review readily available and attached sources, reliance on GEDCOM and PAF files for authority, simple carelessness, lack of knowledge about genealogy, and many other issues as being more important than worrying about the accuracy fo the names that people share with the temples. Obtaining a shared name from Ordinances Ready that happens to be a duplicate or wrong information is not a problem. The problems come from the information that is shared and Ordinances Ready has nothing to do with the process of adding incorrect or duplicative information. We should just do what we do well, continue correcting as much of the Family Tree as we can and helping people understand how to do the work themselves. Meanwhile, Ordinances Ready is the best tool I have ever seen for finding new places to work on the Family Tree. 
So whether or not you use the Ordinances Ready program, my opinion is that you should be encouraging others to use the program. If they do, you will have little motivation to keep a substantial list of names in your reserved list. If you share the names with the temples, your relatives will be able to gain access to those names through the Ordinances Ready app.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Record Preservation: An Underlying Theme in the Book of Mormon

By Prosfilaes - Own work, CC0,
Note: As I tried to post the following to Facebook, I got this error message:

It says:
Your message couldn't be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abuse.
I suggest you read the following post and decide for yourself why someone would consider this particular post as abusive. My blog has been banned from posting on Facebook without any supporting reason or response to multiple requests from me. I suggest you may wish to reevaluate your relationship with Facebook and think about what they are allowing to be published and wonder at what they are preventing from being published. What if someone decided your posts were abusive? Would you want to know what you said that caused this reaction? You might want to look into the issue of "fake news." Here is a place to start: "How Facebook Continues to Spread Fake News." One of the tragedies that I see as I review Facebook from time to time is the fact that many of my friends pass along obviously fake or misleading "Memes" and stories. You may want to think seriously about your involvement with Facebook. 

One of the most prominent incidents in the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon is the story of Nephi, Laman, Lemuel, and Sam returning to Jerusalem to obtain the "the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass." (1 Nephi 3:3) These records were important because of the following reasons:
19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these arecords, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers; 
20 And also that we may apreserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy bprophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time. (1 Nephi 3:19-20)
The importance of preserving these records was explained again by King Benjamin in Mosiah 1: 3-5:
3 And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God. 
4 For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time. 
5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.
It is important to understand that if the Brass Plates had not been preserved, likely, we would not have the record preserved today in the Book of Mormon. Can we really tell the value of the records we inherit from our ancestors including those records of their lives made by governments, churches, and other record-keeping entities? Can we excuse our own disregard for those same records?

In our own day, we have received the following commandment in the Doctrine and Covenants 127: 9:
9 And again, let all the records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives of my holy temple, to be held in remembrance from generation to generation, saith the Lord of Hosts. 
Perhaps it is time to take our own personal inventory of the records we have from our ancestors either directly or indirectly and begin or continue the process of moving those records to safe storage on the website Memories section.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Follow this blog by email

You can see from the previous post that this entire blog has been inexplicably banned from Facebook. If you would still like to get notices about new posts, you can subscribe to receive an email notification of new posts. There is a link on the right-hand side of the blog. I will not do anything with your email address except send you notifications of new posts. I will also post and let you know if I ever get back to be able to post this blog on Facebook. I may also start a new blog and see if that works to get back on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

This Blog has been Banned by Facebook

Apparently, all it takes to get banned from Facebook is to write an inoffensive genealogy blog oriented to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Not only is this blog banned from posting, but you also can't even put the URL into a comment or post. Here is the notice.

The Community Standards include authenticity, safety, privacy, and dignity. See Contrary to these standards, I was not warned and further, I have no idea what there is about my blog posts that violates any one of the standards.

I am somewhat honored to be classified in the same category as Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and other great banned authors but at least when they ban Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn I can guess the reason.  I guess I could speculate that FamilySearch got tired of me posting about RootsTech or whatever, but having the blog banned puts me into an interesting group of writers considering the content I frequently see on Facebook. I realize that someone who did not care for genealogy or the Church could have complained and started this process but I would hope that someone at Facebook would at least review the decision to ban me without notice and yes, I have responded several times that I find nothing in my blog posts that even closely approaches offensive.

I guess I can join the ranks of my ancestors who were persecuted, mobbed, and forced to leave the United States under threat of death for their beliefs. Although I can hardly take Facebook that seriously. By the way, so far, I can keep posting on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and my blogs are still being posted right here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Don't Forget the Unindexed Records on the FamilySearch website

As of November 2019, there were 1.73 billion digital images published only in the Catalog. This compares to 1.4 billion images published in the searchable FamilySearch Historical Records Collections. As you can see from these numbers, there are many records in the FamilySearch Catalog that are waiting to be indexed. Just because a record is not indexed, it does not mean that the record is not searchable. True, indexing makes the records more readily available but unindexed records have been searched by genealogical researchers for years.

Any genealogical search on the website is not complete without searching the Catalog for more pertinent records and then using the images available through the catalog entries to continue your search, sometimes record by record. Sometimes we get so used to having all the records indexed and searchable we forget the traditional way of searching each record for information still works for all the unindexed records.

The image above is the Catalog page for Guanajuato, Mexico Catholic Church Records. Here is how I got to this list.

Before you start searching in the Catalog, you should understand that the entire Catalog is organized primarily by the place events that occurred in your ancestors' lives. So, I need to know that these particular ancestors (not mine but those of a friend) were from Guanajuato and more specifically, I need to know exactly the location of an event in the life of at least one of these people down to the parish or town. If I know a verifiable location, I can begin to look for pertinent records. In this case, my friend has a marriage certificate showing that his grandparents were married in Huanimaro, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Using that information, I begin by looking in the catalog for the location. The location is cataloged in reverse order.

When I do the search, I can see the records that are available for that location, if there are any available. If there are no records, then I need to go to the maps to see if the records might be in another nearby place. Here is the list of records for that location. FamilySearch has the Parish Registers from 1843 to 1973.

Now I can begin my search of the records.

I can see a large collection of records or I can also search individual types of records for different years. If I choose to search all the records using the red notice, I will be trying to match a name and a place for the entire state of Guanajuato. But here's the catch. If I go to the Historical Record Collection and look at the entry for Mexico, Guanajuato, Catholic Church Records, 1519-1984, I will see that there are 1,481,850 records and that number was last updated in 2017. This is the number of indexed images because the number of records listed in the Historical Record Collections list are only those records that are indexed.

However, if I return to the Catalog and look at the entry for the same set of records, I will find out that there are 4,584,983 images. There are a lot more images than there are indexed records. A complete search would have to include all these extra records. We find those records on the list of records at the bottom of the Catalog page organized by location and then chronologically.

The camera icons on the right-hand side of the page indicate that there are images available. The magnifying glasses indicate that some of the records have been indexed. There are other ways of finding these same records, but it is always a good idea to check the total number of records in the catalog against the number indexed in the Historical Record Collections before relying completely on the indexed records. Here is a video that illustrates this issue.

Where are the Digitized Records on

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The FamilySearch Year in Review 2019

Infographics seem to pop up online at the end of every year. This one is from When we look at these numbers we need to remember that FamilySearch is a nonprofit, charitable institution sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and nearly all of these increased numbers come directly or indirectly from volunteers. Granted, FamilySearch has a sizable paid staff, but indexing, book scanning, and image capture are largely volunteer efforts. Here is some more detail about the numbers and the accomplishments all of which came from an email sent to me. But you can also view all of the following information in the FamilySearch Blog entitled, "FamilySearch 2019 Year in Review."

  • In 2019, FamilySearch added 123.6 million indexed records and over 850 million new images of historical records.
  • In addition to more searchable records and images, FamilySearch provided updates and new features to improve the indexing and record searching experience, including a new similar historical records tool that helps you find additional records that may belong to a person you find in a document. So when you find a family member in a record on, FamilySearch can now suggest other records that may include information about the same person.
  • FamilySearch introduced an update that allows users to make corrections to names in an index. You can correct names that were indexed incorrectly or that were incorrect on the record itself. Learn more here.
  • Using the new Thank a Volunteer feature, you can express appreciation for the thousands of volunteers who make indexed, searchable records possible on!

Here is another infographic with some additional information about the users and conferences from the same email. 

And here is some additional information about the same subject.
  • This year saw another successful RootsTech in Salt Lake City, which a total of 15,156 genealogy enthusiasts and experts attended.
  • For the first year ever, a RootsTech conference took place in London, bringing in 9,727 total attendees. There were more than 81,000 online views of the London and Salt Lake City RootsTech conferences combined.
  • Mexico also had its own genealogy conference sponsored by FamilySearch, the Expo GenealogĂ­a, which successfully brought discovery experiences to hundreds of attendees.
  • Along with the many discoveries that FamilySearch users have made on the site, FamilySearch created an online discovery experience center, which you can check out here.
FamilySearch has not yet run out of infographics. Here is another one.

And here are the detailed facts that go along with this one.
  • During 2019, 3.5 million users added nearly 47 million people to the FamilySearch Family Tree.
  • FamilySearch also introduced several new features to the Family Tree this year. For example, you can now see how you are related to other users of All you have to do is opt-in, and you can see how you and another person (if he or she has also opted-in) are related.
  • In a recent update, FamilySearch provided the ability to document all family relationships, including same-sex relationships. Learn more here.
Don't get impatient, there are three more infographics with even more information. Here we go with the next one.

And here is the explanation.
  • An incredible 518,563 users added to their memories on the website.
  • Users uploaded 8,751,822 photos and stories this year, for a total of 40,373,365 photos and stories in the Memories feature.

  • In 2019, we had 318,000 indexing volunteers, who served for a total of 10.9 million volunteer indexing hours.
  • One million customer support cases were resolved by staff and volunteers.
  • An additional 66 FamilySearch family history centers were opened, making a total of 5,190 centers worldwide. In addition, the Family History Library expanded its hours of operation to include Sunday hours and later hours on Mondays.
  • Volunteers and missionaries contributed a total of 15.4 million service hours in 2019.
This is the last one:

In addition to the above, here are some other interesting facts.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which FamilySearch is a fully-owned nonprofit subsidiary, donated $2 million to the International African American Museum (IAAM) Center for Family History. The donation will help support the creation of the center there.
  • At the annual meeting of the American Society of Genealogists, held on November 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah, David Rencher, the chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch and director of the Family History Library, received a certificate of appreciation for extraordinary contributions to the discipline of genealogy
  • The FamilySearch Research Wiki, a treasure-trove of genealogical expertise, advice, and insights for family history enthusiasts, published its 90,000th article.